• Lactation Cymru

Myth: Breastfeeding Hurts.

We hear it a lot right? I couldn't handle the pain. It hurt too much. My nipples never hardened up. You'll be fine once your nipples toughen up. Pain is normal.

No. Pain is not normal, and breastfeeding should not hurt.

Here's why:

The mechanics of breastfeeding are such that the nipple should be right at the back of the baby's mouth, at the junction of the hard and soft palate (run your tongue along the roof of your mouth and feel the change). Therefore baby is BREASTfeeding and not NIPPLEfeeding. Baby should be compressing the breast and moving the milk with negative pressure in his mouth. If there is pain then it is likely due to the nipple being in the wrong place - so then the nipple is being compressed. Having your nipple squeezed would produce an uncomfortable feeling in anyone! The suction itself should not cause pain, although it may feel like a tugging/pulling sensation.

So pain should be your first red flag that the attachment is not quite as efficient as it should be. Seek out support now! Your midwife/health visitor/peer support group, can help you tweak your positioning and attachment to achieve a nice deep latch. Or if there is something preventing this deep latching (anatomical issues) then you can be referred to those who can help.

However, pain in those first few early days due to hormones is quite common. This is due to hormones and sensitivity. Some people feel this worse than others, and some may find it unbearable. Just know that so long as baby is latched on as deeply as possible this initial pain will pass quickly. If it doesn't then it's time to seek out that support again.

If in doubt, always ask your midwife/health visitor/lactation professional.

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